WILLIAMSTOWN, MA – Williams College will be represented at the Rio Olympics in August when four-time All-American swimmer Faye Sultan '16 competes in her second summer Olympic Games. In 2012 Sultan competed in the 50-meter freestyle in the London Olympics and was the first female swimmer to compete for her native country of Kuwait.
This time Sultan will not be swimming under the Kuwaiti flag, but rather under the Olympic flag. Since the last Olympiad the International Olympic Committee (IOC) banned the Kuwaiti Olympic Committee due to the government of Kuwait's interference with the operation of the Kuwait Olympic Committee.
Sultan was pretty sure throughout the 2015-16 Eph season that she would not be able to participate in the Rio Games because of the ban so she was surprised shortly after the Eph season ended to hear from the Kuwaiti Federation. She and a few of her Eph teammates decided to compete in the U.S. Swimming Last Chance Long Course Nationals after the NCAA Division III Championships. "I swam well, but I thought that I was retired at that point," Sultan stated. "Two weeks later, the Kuwaiti Federation contacted me regarding my participation in Rio."
Thus began the process of trying to obtain permission to compete in Rio. Sultan was eventually able to gain permission to compete in the Rio Games. She will now be swimming under the International Olympic Committee's flag. The IOC banned the Kuwaiti Olympic Committee from Rio, but selected Sultan to represent their Olympic team.
There will be even more differences in Sultan's Olympic experience this her second straight Olympic Games. This time not only will she have had the benefit of four years of training under Eph head coach Steve Kuster, been able to train in swimming pools that were not so shallow that she could not complete flip-turns, and she will train on Long Island and compete with Steve Kuster at her side.
"For a lot of my training for the London Games, I had to practice in a pool that was meant to teach little kids how to swim," Sultan recalled. "I did not have four years of Williams swimming under my belt before London and I quite literally went from swimming in kiddie pools to the Olympics. This time around I am a lot more prepared and I am confident that the past four years of Williams swimming is going to help me achieve my goals."
In London Sultan was timed in 27.92 in the 50-meter freestyle placing her 48th in a field of 73 competitors.
Sultan is currently training under Steve Kuster's guidance at the Lawrence Beach Club in Atlantic, NY. Prior to arriving back in the States this month, she had been training in Spain for the 50-meter freestyle.
Faye Sultan was pretty sure that she was going to attend Cal-Berkeley after high school, but Williams inadvertently worked its way into her thoughts. "Growing up, I heard a lot about Williams from my dad, Tarek Sultan '86, but I did not really comprehend just how special it was," she said. "I was reminded of Williams the year before I graduated, when a student from my high school decided to come here. My final decision came down to Cal-Berkeley and Williams, and I was completely sold after visiting Williams for Previews."
Williams was the first time Sultan had the opportunity to swim on a team with girls her own age. She was extremely excited to be able to train and compete with women and have a team experience. "I'd say the team experience at Williams exceeded my expectations," Sultan said. "I was excited to be on a team with girls my age and I didn't know what to expect. I ended up leaving Williams with a whole bunch of sisters and brothers."
Sultan graduated in June with a B.A. in geoscience but her plans for the future are on temporary hold right now. "I'm interested in going to grad school at some point, but the immediate future is up in the air," Sultan stated. "My plan is to focus on Rio, and then take it from there."
You can be sure all of Sultan's Eph sisters and brothers will be following her 2016 Olympics adventure with great interest this August.